3 Healthy, Easy Appetizers You Can Make in a Toaster Oven

Your guests are sure to love these finger-food recipes

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Baked Salmon Croquettes With Lemon-Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce is an easy appetizer GettyImages-152830585

Throwing a holiday party can induce a bout of seasonal stress. So Consumer Reports’ test kitchens came up with three easy, healthy appetizer recipes you can make in your toaster oven.

More on Healthy Cooking

Think of your toaster oven as a holiday helper. While you can’t roast a turkey in one, as long as the food fits you can use it for practically anything else you’d cook in your full-sized oven. When it comes to whipping up appetizers for a dinner or a party, a toaster oven has the advantage of heating up faster, making your party prep more efficient. And if you’re cooking a big dinner, a toaster oven can (almost) double your oven capacity.

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While we’re big fans of crudité platters, sometimes you want to serve something a little more indulgent yet not go overboard on fat, calories, sodium, or sugars. These recipes fit the bill. They don’t scream healthy, but they're made with good-for-you ingredients, such as fish and nuts, and their nutrition numbers aren’t likely to make you wince. Serving one of them should suffice for a pre-dinner nibble. If you’re hosting a party, try all three.

Salmon Croquettes With Lemon Dipping Sauce

(shown above)

For the croquettes
¾ pound fresh, cooked skinless, boneless wild salmon fillet, flaked*
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 egg white
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the dipping sauce
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch salt and pepper

*We recommend using fresh cooked salmon, but in a pinch you can use one can (14.75 ounces) of Alaska salmon, drained, with bones and skin removed.


1. Line the toaster oven baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine salmon, ½ cup panko, mayonnaise, red pepper, green onions, egg white, lemon juice, Old Bay, and Dijon mustard. Stir gently until well combined.

2. Shape the mixture with your hands into 16 1½-inch patties. Coat them gently in the remaining ¼ cup panko crumbs and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Bake in the toaster oven at 400° F for 12 minutes until heated through and lightly browned.

4. Meanwhile, place all of the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until well combined. Serve croquettes with the dipping sauce.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per 2 croquettes and 1 teaspoon of dipping sauce: 150 calories, 7 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat; 7 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugars; 14 g protein, 260 mg sodium.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

14 small jalapeño peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
3 scallions, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
⅛ teaspoon each, salt and black pepper
1 cup grated manchego cheese


1. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes (use plastic gloves for this).

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn, thyme, salt, and pepper, and heat through. Stir in the scallions and half of the cheese.

3. Stuff each pepper half with the vegetable mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Bake the poppers in a toaster oven at 375° F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the peppers are soft.

Makes 28 poppers.

Nutrition information per 4 poppers: 100 calories, 7 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 4 g protein, 120 mg sodium.

Spiced Mixed Nuts

2 cups unsalted mixed nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1. Line the toaster oven pan with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Microwave the butter, sugar, paprika, and salt in a large bowl for 45 seconds until the butter is melted; stir. Add nuts and thyme; stir until nuts are completely coated.

3. Spread the nuts on a prepared baking sheet. Bake in a toaster oven at 350° F for 7 to 8 minutes until lightly browned.

4. Remove from the toaster oven. As the nuts cool to room temperature, toss them occasionally.

Makes 16 servings.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 130 calories, 11 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 3 g protein, 75 mg sodium.

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